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124 dead; thousands injured in Chinese earthquake

BEIJING (AP) — A powerful earthquake struck the steep hills of China's southwestern Sichuan province Saturday, leaving at least 124 people dead and more than 2,600 injured, nearly five years after a devastating quake wreaked widespread damage across the region.

Saturday's quake, while not as destructive as that in 2008, toppled buildings, triggered landslides and disrupted phone and power connections in mountainous Lushan county. The village of Longmen was hit particularly hard, with authorities saying nearly all the buildings there had been destroyed in a frightening minute-long shaking by the quake.

"It was such a big quake that everyone was scared," said a woman who answered a phone at a kindergarten hours later and declined to give her name. "We all fled for our lives."

Rescuers turned the square outside the Lushan County Hospital into a triage center, where medical personnel bandaged bleeding victims, according to footage on China Central Television. Rescuers dynamited boulders that had fallen across roads to reach Longmen and other damaged areas lying farther up the mountain valleys, state media reported.

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